What is a Finite Verb? How to Identify a Finite Verb?


A verb is a peculiar as well as an interesting part of speech. It has a good many kinds of forms. For its forms and diversity, many a time it becomes a little bit difficult to understand for English learners what role it actually plays in a particular context. Today we will discuss a form of the verb which is known as the Finite verb.

What is a finite verb?

In a sentence or in a clause, the verb which has its own subject and shows agreement with that subject, and which can play the role of making the sentence of different tenses is called a finite verb.

So, we can say, to be a finite verb, a verb needs to have three features. They are:

  1. the verb should have its own subject,
  2. the verb should show agreement with the subject (in person and number),
  3. the verb should have the power to play the role of making different tenses.

Without modal auxiliaries, all kinds of verbs in English can be used as a finite verb if it has these qualities in a clause or a sentence.

Tips and remember: A finite verb is a verb that changes with the changes of the tense.


  • I want him to write a poem. [In this sentence, there are two verb words. They are ‘want’ and ‘write’. The verb ‘want’ has its own subject. This verb shows agreement with the subject. We can change the tense of this sentence by changing this verb. So, this verb is a finite verb.]
  • He wants him to write a poem. [In this sentence, the verb ‘wants’ is in agreement with the subject, but the verb ‘write’ does not need to agree with the subject because it is not a finite verb.]
  • I wanted him to write a poem. [In this sentence, the verb ‘wanted’ got changed to form the sentence of past tense. And the verb ‘write’ did not change its form because it is not a finite verb.]
A finite verb agrees and shows tense
Finite verb

How to identify a finite verb?

A finite verb can easily be identified by looking at the subject of the verb. The subject of the verb may be explicit or implicit, but a finite verb should have a subject. The verb will also show agreement with the subject.

In addition to this, a finite verb shall have the feature of making the sentences of different tenses.


  • William is working hard to get a good job. [Here the subject of the verb ‘is working’ is explicit.]
  • Go there to help him. [Here the subject of the verb ‘go’ is implicit.]
  • The girl picking flowers in the garden is my sister.

Why is a finite verb important for a clause or sentence?

Without a finite verb, we will not be able to use

  • a subject
  • a tense (present, past, or future)

How many finite verbs should there be in a sentence?

The number of finite verbs will depend on how many clauses there are in a sentence. If the sentence is of a single clause, there will be a single or one finite verb. If there is more than one clause in a sentence, there will be more than one finite verb depending on the number of clauses. It is to be remembered that clauses are joined by coordinating conjunctions or by subordinating conjunctions. Without conjunction, no more than one clause sentence can be formed.


  • William looked for his parents at the train station. [One clause sentence, one finite verb.]
  • The man coming towards me is my uncle. [One clause sentence, one finite verb.]
  • When he found me, he began to cry. [Two clauses sentence, two finite verbs.]
  • At the time of going to school, I found a man who was carrying a basket. [Two clauses sentence, two finite verbs.]
  • William looked for his parents at the train station, but they arrived at the station late, so he left the station before they arrived. [Four clauses sentence, four finite verbs.]

Rezaul Karim

Hi, my name is Rezaul Karim. I am an English teacher and founder of LearnEnglishWithRezaul.com. I work with non-native English learners to help them understand English grammar from basic to intermediate. I also help them improve their conversation skills, and communication ability and reduce their accent. I hope you may like my posts on this website, and if you really really feel that this page/website is useful for English learners, please happily share it for others to know.

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